What is it like to be an atheist?
It’s trying. I was raised in a Christian home – Baptist. I was forced to go to church and was beaten if I didn’t. I was beaten if I questioned it, too. My son and I are treated like Satan’s offspring because of it. My atheism has kept my family from helping him when he I needed help. He needed medicine and they told me that if I wasn’t an atheist, I wouldn’t have problems getting his medicine. I fell on hard times and I just needed a little help. These same family members then kicked me and my son out of their home because of it. They still belittle me to this day. It doesn’t help that I’m black. Not a lot of black atheists these days – let alone a black woman atheist. So, here I am black, bisexual, a woman and an atheist. Life is cruel to me, but I try and take it in stride.
It’s hard. It’s hard because I have to watch family members – who are still religious – still grasp onto what they think is real; what’s true to them. It’s hard because their ancestors were slaves. They were beaten to death with religion. To see my family and black people, in general, hang a white man’s god up on their kitchen or dining room wall saddens me. They should know better than that, but they don’t. They keep themselves down because they’re waiting and expecting for their god to pick them up. I try not to knock their religion too much because that’s what they believe, but it’s so hard because of our background. I feel hopeless most of the time because, in the black community, religion is pretty much everyone’s security blanket. They need a bill paid? Pray to god. Do they need to get their car running? Pray to god. A doctor just cured their cancer? Praise Jesus! Their water ‘miraculously’ didn’t get cut off? Hallelujah! They put forth the effort and the work but “to god be the glory!” It’s frustrating to be an atheist sometimes. I want to educate people – black Christians especially. I think black atheists like me and other minority atheists have a harder time getting out of religion and coming out as secular, atheist, or agnostic because our culture has been drowned in the religion of our past oppressors who used religion to enslave, kill, and oppress us. The awareness of those facts is not in education nor brought to light so that blacks, and any other person of color really that had their original belief system replaced by European Christianity. We have a hard time coming out as an atheist because my family is so intertwined in their faith that anyone who doesn’t believe as they do gets disowned.
Being an outspoken atheist can be annoying at times. Having to explain yourself to people who are simple-minded to the concept of atheism is wasted energy, but it’s much needed. The silver lining is that there is sometimes that one person who isn’t simple-minded and they become an atheist because of me.
On the upside, I’m happy. I don’t have to answer to anyone on Sunday. My money stays in my pocket. I don’t have to worry about god finding my house keys for me. Another good thing is I get to ask the real questions in life now. I can improve things using critical thinking. It’s a form of intellectual evolution. I feel free. I’m not held down by some book that claims have all the answers and life’s rules that even Christians don’t follow.
There’s another side to being an atheist – especially a black one. But before I talk about that side, I’d like to just say that I know being an atheist is just a lack of belief – I get that, but you’d think that common sense don’t stop there. For a lot of people it does. The side I’m talking about is the racist side. The side where there are racist, bigoted atheists. That side of atheism is brutal and I’ve experienced it on a massive scale – especially on my fb.com/BlackAtheists page. There’s a lot of animosity in the atheist community already, but some of it comes from the lack of understanding of my page. I get called a separatist or a racist by other atheists because they think I’m segregating atheism. History will show there are a lot of reasons why that is; they prove that reasoning by being bigoted, by being racist. Why do I have to make articles explaining why Black Atheist pages are needed? Why does my life have to be threatened because they feel I’m secluding other races? Why do you feel you need to ask me would be okay to make a ‘White Atheists’ page? Why? It clearly says on my page that all atheists are welcomed, but they don’t investigate. They see the name and lose their minds. I had this issue with Cult of Dusty back in January about MLK and the racist comment he made, that was a huge mess and his “crew” came to my page with their big book of racial epithets and they thought they were doing Dusty a service. They told me to calm my tits and eat a watermelon. Racism on any level will be challenged. I won’t stand for it. I spoke up because it wasn’t right. It’s a long story, but that’s the gist of it.
The point to all that is that atheism has its good and bad. It has its up and downs. It also has a bunch of simple-minded, racist, bigoted, knuckle-dragging mouth breathers that simply don’t believe in god and that’s okay.